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I joined what was at the time the Vanvitelli University in October 2012, it was shortly after my first daughter Jasmine was born, she was three months old at the time. Prior to starting this degree I was working as qualified secondary science teacher, in the north of England. I had a successful career but I had always wanted to be a doctor and had never given up on my dream. Taking the decision to study abroad was very difficult, it meant that I was giving up a successful career, being poor for years and away from my family until I was ready for them to join me.

Though enrolment was somewhat difficult as all the documents were in Italian and I did not speak or understand this beautiful language, I was lucky enough to have the help of a man who was to be a great ally during the following six years, this person of course was Dr. Ambrosio our course secretary. Dr Ambrosio guided me through what would otherwise be daunting paperwork and I sought his help whenever I needed advice (which was often). With the start of the first semester, I soon found myself in the midst of a group of friendly and helpful professors and peers, many of whom I am happy to call my friends and who I am sure will become good doctors.

Having already completed a degree in England I had some idea of what studying at university involved. In England, university meant, modern lectures halls, student accommodation, a library and social facilities such as a gym, student bars and sometimes even a cinema. I was surprised to find that our university didn’t have much of that, but then I had to remind myself that compared to the astronomical tuition fees that I would have paid to study medicine in the UK (£9000 per year) studying at SUN in Naples was practically free and for that I was grateful. It also meant that with any extra money I had I could really do the things I wanted to do, plus I wasn’t going to leave university with a huge debt that would have taken me years to repay. Also, I fell in love with the campus and the city in general, I mean where else would you find beautiful fine art on campus walls?

Studying soon commenced and the workload quickly mounted. [...]

The structure and organisation of medical training in Italy is radically different from the UK and around half way through the degree, the flexibility of the system and the willingness of the staff faculty to accommodate my needs proved invaluable as there were very serious health issues in my family that meant I had to be away from university for sometime, and once again Dr. Ambrosio and senior faculty members such as Prof. Papaccio were keen to help.

While the vast majority of lectures, exams and placements were carried out smoothly. [...] It seemed to me that while some exams were very easy and may require days to revise others were extremely difficult and required months to simply pass, this I thought was somewhat unbalanced.

Another finding of my studies at university is that while the focus was almost purely academic, one can tailor their needs if only one asks. There is a saying in English that goes 'if you don’t ask you won’t get’, what I mean is this; no one offered us to dissect cadavers, perform invasive medical procedures or take on research duties in the lab, however, when I approached the professors about my extracurricular requests most were keen and eager to help.

As the end drew near I felt that we were treated more as medical colleagues and less as students which I appreciated. All necessary paperwork was promptly completed often within the hour! The professors were more than happy to aid us in gaining employment and wished us every success.

In November of the final year I was very happy to find out that my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, Rose, who was born on the eve of my graduation on 19th July 2018. This meant that until then, I had to perform almost all housework, take and collect Jasmine from school, attend lectures and study. I found the experience very challenging and my grades suffered, but it was worth it.

Now that I have graduated and have become and MD, I am simply overwhelmed by the realisation that it’s over, I have achieved my lifelong ambition of becoming a physician that I may one day help people and make their lives easier by alleviating their suffering using my skills and knowledge. Now that this chapter has ended another has begun, the process of looking for work is now in progress and I hope and pray that I will start my medial career somewhere near home in the north of England. I pray that the time spent in Naples has prepared me for the challenges of being a doctor and that I will excel, and shine a good light on our university

I know that despite the hardship that me and my family have endured, that I am a very blessed man. The overwhelming feeling that I have is that of gratitude, I am grateful to every person who helped on my way, I am grateful to the university staff, and to all my friends and family. I am grateful to Italy, I am grateful to Naples, but first and foremost to University Vanvitelli. Thank you for everything!

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